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Gluten-Free St. Patrick's Day

Everything You Need, from Beer to Corned Beef and Cabbage

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Updated March 10, 2014

It's quite appropriate to celebrate St. Patrick's Day gluten-free — the Irish are said to have some of the highest rates of celiac disease (and possibly also non-celiac gluten sensitivity) in the world.

Here's everything you need to create a perfect gluten-free St. Patrick's Day, starting with gluten-free recipes for traditional corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread. I also provide information on whether you can consume Irish whiskey.

Oh, and don't forget the beer ... here's where you can find gluten-free beer and which brands to try. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

1. Gluten-Free Corned Beef and Cabbage

Getty Images/James Baigrie

You can't get much more Irish than classic corned beef and cabbage, and this traditional recipe from About.com's Southern Cooking site would make a great centerpiece for your St. Patrick's Day dinner.

Recipe for Gluten-Free Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef is made by "corning" a brisket in a brine solution. Most corned beef at your local supermarket should be gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million, but you should read label ingredients carefully. Call the toll-free number on the label if you're not sure whether an ingredient contains gluten or not.

Another note: You should avoid the spice packet that usually comes with store-bought corned beef unless the manufacturer can verify it's gluten-free. This recipe calls for you to add your own spices, rather than use the packet.

It's also possible to make your own guaranteed gluten-free corned beef — this recipe shows you how. If you choose this route, use only safe spices (here's my Gluten-Free Spice List).

2. Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread

© Teri Lee Gruss

I used to love Irish soda bread around St. Patrick's Day. This gluten-free and dairy-free recipe from About.com's Gluten-Free Cooking site allows those of us who avoid gluten to have this treat again.

The recipe uses a gluten-free flour blend — there are plenty on the market to choose from, or you can use this recipe to make your own gluten-free flour blend. Other ingredients include spices, honey, eggs and apple cider vinegar. If you can handle dairy, serve the Irish soda bread with real Irish butter for a truly authentic treat.

Recipe for Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread

3. Gluten-Free Irish Stew

Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

Traditional Irish stew is naturally gluten-free — it gets its starch content from potatoes, not grains. This recipe, from About.com's British Cooking site, combines potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage with mutton or lamb, and simmers it for more than two hours.

The only processed food ingredient in this stew is dark beef stock. You'll need to make certain any beef stock you use is gluten-free. You can make your own; there's an easy recipe here. You can also use a gluten-free brand of beef stock. Swanson beef stock and Pacific Foods' organic beef broth are considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million.

Recipe for Gluten-Free Irish Stew

4. Gluten-Free Shamrock Sugar Cookies

Getty Images/Lisa Hubbard

These gluten-free shamrock sugar cookies are simple to make and festive to serve on St. Patrick's Day, regardless of whether you're sending them to school or featuring them at a party. You'll need a gluten-free flour blend, sugar, vanilla extract and (of course) green food coloring.

The recipe also calls for butter, but it's possible to make these dairy-free as well as gluten-free by substituting a dairy-free "butter" spread. And there's no reason to stop at shamrocks ... these will work equally well for Valentine's Day (heart-shaped stencil), Christmas (tree- or Santa-shaped stencils) and even Mother's Day (heart-shaped stencil, again).

Recipe for Gluten-Free Shamrock Sugar Cookies

5. Is Irish Whiskey Gluten Free?

Getty Images/Steve Lupton

Some people believe that St. Patrick's Day wouldn't be the same without a touch o' the Irish ... Irish whiskey, that is. But there's some debate over whether Irish whiskey (or any type of whiskey) truly is okay for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Most — but not all — experts view it as safe to drink because distillation removes almost all of the gluten proteins (studies show less than two parts per million of gluten is left after distillation). However, a large minority of people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity report nasty glutening symptoms after consuming whiskey.

What's right for you? Read Is Whiskey Gluten-Free? to help you decide.

6. Gluten-Free Beer

Getty Images/Pat LaCroix

Gluten-free beers are popping up everywhere — it's likely that your favorite Irish pub will have Redbridge (at least) for St. Patrick's Day. I've even run across one bar that had a gluten-free microbrewery beer on tap.

This extensive list of gluten-free beer brands shows what's available in bottles in the United States. You'll need to mail-order some of these (especially if you don't live in an urban area with a well-stocked, gluten-aware store like Whole Foods, where I've seen a wide variety of gluten-free beers). Definitely check out the online reviews, since some gluten-free beers are better than others.

Gluten-Free Beer List

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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